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Okonjo-Iweala Welcomes Apology From Swiss Newspaper

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EU Reports Nigeria To WTO

Former Nigerian Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala resumed today as the first African and female Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Today too, she welcomed an apology from a Swiss newspaper that had derogatorily described her as a grandmother.
She said in a tweet : “It is important & timely that they’ve apologised.”

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala took over as the new WTO chief on Monday after a long, high-powered career serving as minister of finance and foreign affairs in her native Nigeria and 25 years at the World Bank.

But when several Swiss newspapers announced her appointment last month, they decided the most noteworthy thing to mention about the new WTO chief was as a matriarch.

“This grandmother will become the boss of the WTO,” read the headline of the article published by the Aargauer Zeitung and several other papers on February 9.

READ ALSO: China Bans Physical Punishment, Verbal Abuse In Schools

After a number of women heads of UN agencies and more than 120 ambassadors in Geneva last week signed a petition calling out the headline as racist and sexist, the paper apologised.

“This headline was inappropriate and unsuitable… We apologise for this editorial mistake,” the paper’s foreign editor-in-chief Samuel Schumacher said in a statement on Friday.

In her tweet, Okonjo-Iweala welcomed the apology and said she was “thankful to all my sisters, UN Women Leaders and the 124 Ambassadors in Geneva who signed the petition on calling out the racist & sexist remarks in this newspaper.”

“We need to call out this behaviour when it happens,” she insisted, decrying “the stereotypes women face when they take on leadership positions.”

She said the headline debacle reflected the problems raised in a book she co-authored with former Australian prime minister Julie Gillard called “Women and Leadership.”

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NLC Orders Workers To Shut CBN Offices Nationwide Over Naira Scarcity

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NLC Suspends Plan To Protest Against Fuel Subsidy Removal

Worried about the continued scarcity of naira, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has officially declared a nationwide . The national president of the union, Joe Ajaero, gave the directive during a media briefing in Abuja.

Ajaero also directed that affiliate unions constituting the NLC should be on standby for picketing exercises across all branches of the Central Bank of Nigeria nationwide.

The NLC earlier issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to end the petrol and cash scarcity being experienced in the country.

Ajaero told journalists on Wednesday that the industrial action became the last resort of the NLC following the expiration of the ultimatum.

He said the decision to picket the CBN branches became necessary as the federal government and the CBN had failed to show any commitment to addressing the situation.

Ajaero lamented that despite the Supreme Court order that the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes remain legal tender until December 31, 2023, the situation kept getting worse.

He said workers could not access cash to pay fares to work.

He also criticised the pricing irregularities in the petroleum sector.

“Last week, we gave an ultimatum for the review of the cash crunch bedevilling the country, but we have discovered to our dismay that as at this moment not much effort has been made to ameliorate the situation. Government is still foot-dragging on these issues we raised,” Ajaero said.

“Based on this, we met again this morning to review our position and resolved that by Wednesday next week all CBN branches will be picketed. Workers are directed to stay at home too because people cannot eat, workers can no longer go to the office, we have been pushed to the wall.

“We have decided to take our destiny in our hands, we have mobilised our workers on this exercise.”

The NLC has no fewer than 43 affiliate unions which include, but not limited to, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, and the National Union of Road Transport Workers.

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BREAKING: Alex Otti Of Labour Party Emerges Abia Governor-elect

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Alex Otti

Alex Otti of the Labour Party has emerged the winner of Abia State governorship election.

This followed the eventual declaration, on Wednesday, of the results of the controversial Obingwa Local Government Area results.

With the conclusion of the collation of the outstanding results of the election, the Peoples Democratic Party scored 9,962 votes while the Labour Party, 3,776 votes in the LGA.

Consequently, the LP has won in 10 LGAs, the PDP in six LGAs, and the Young Peoples Party in one LGA.

The governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Abia State, Chief Alex Otti, was, consequently declared the winner of the 2023 governorship election in Abia State.

Otti polled a total of 175,466 to defeat his closest rival and candidate of the PDP who scored 88,526.

The Returning Officer, Prof. Nnenna Oti, declared the LP candidate the winner at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Umuahia, the state capital, Wednesday afternoon after completing the suspended collation of results.

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CAN, Churches Defeat Govt Over CAMA Act

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Emefiele Sick, Can't Meet With Reps - CBN
President Buhari

It was victory for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and churches under it as a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, stopped the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) from suspending or appointing their trustees.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that the provisions of Sections 17 (1), 839 (1) and (7) (a), 842 (1) and (2), 851 and 854 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020 and Regulations 28, 29 and 30 of the Companies Regulations (CR), 2021 were not applicable to CAN and the churches, including mosques, as a religious body.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Registered Trustees of CAN, in the originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/84/2022 field by Joe Gadzama, SAN, had sued the CAC and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment as 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.

The plaintiff, in the suit, had posed five questions for determination.

CAN had asked the court to determine that whether Section 839, Subsections (1), (7) (a) and (10) of the CAMA, 2020 and regulations 28 – 30 of the CR, 2021 are inconsistent with Sections 4 (8), 6 (6) (b) and 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which guarantees the its right to freedom of association and the right to seek redress in court, among others.

It, therefore, sought 13 reliefs which include a declaration that Section 839 (1), (7) (a) and (10) of the CAMA and Sections 28 – 30 of the CR are inconsistent with |Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution, and thus unconstitutional, null and void.

“An order striking down Sections 839(1), (7) (a) and (10), 842(1) and (2), 843, 851 and 854 of the CAMA for being unconstitutional.

“A declaration that Section 17(2) (a) and (d) of the CAMA demand an impossible and impracticable action; thus, void and for being impracticable and unknown to Law.”

CAN also prayed for an order of perpetual injunction restraining and barring the defendants from taking any step to give effect to the provisions of Sections 17(2) (a) and (d), 839(1), 842(1) and (2), 842(1) and (2), 842, 843, 851 and 854 of the CAMA against it as mentioned in Article 4 of its constitution, to prevent further contravention of the provisions of Sections 4(8), 6(6)(b), 251(1)(e) and 251(3) of the 1999 Constitution.

It argued if CAC was allowed to suspend its trustees and appoint interim managers to manage its affairs, it would be usurping its powers under the constitution and the powers of the standing committee and the plenary session which would not be in line with the constitution.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo said that the CAC did not controvert the averment of CAN that it was constituted by the churches.

“It is settled law that averments without contradicting evidence or averments are deemed admitted.

“There is a need at this point to define what a church is in order to see how applicable the provisions of the CAMA 2020 can be applicable to it,” he said.

Citing a previous case, the judge said “a church in its true definition is the body of Christ. One person cannot constitute the body of Christ; it connotes a congregation, an assembly of people. An individual cannot own a church. A church property must be the collective responsibility of all the members.”

He said the summary of the above was that “the church is an ecclesiastical being.

“Each church is characterised by its distinct dogma or creed and same for each congregation and denomination that constitute the church.

“It is on this ground that it is impossible for one church to be administered by another church and the church being what it is for the soul of man, the doctrinal distinctness and difference must be respected by the authorities within and without.

“This being so, it is then impracticable for the church or a denomination thereof to be administered by secular arrangement such as interim manager or managers stated in

Section 839 of the CAMA 2020 or any other arrangement put in place by the CAMA which does not take into account the doctrinal composition of the church.

“It is also my opinion that to suspend the trustees and appoint an interim manager or managers to manage the affairs of the church will conflict with the sacerdotal order of its divine administration and desecrate same.”

Justice Ekwo, who observed that the Minister of Trade (2nd defendant) neither filed any application nor represented in court despite being served by the plaintiff, held that the effect of the failure of a defendant to file pleadings is that the assertions of the claimant stands unchallenged and are deemed admitted and established.

According to him, therefore, the case of the plaintiff succeeds on the merit.

The judge, consequently, made a seven declarations, which include a declaration that Section 839 (1), (7) (a) and (10) of the CAMA 2020 and Regulations 28, 29 and 30 of the CR , 2021 are not applicable to religious organisation as CAN and the churches as they violated the right to worship guaranteed by Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

He also made an order of perpetual Injunction, “restraining the defendants from taking any step to give effect to or implementing and/or continuing with any act to implement the provisions of Sections 839 (1), 842 (1) and (2), 842, 843, 851 and 854 of the CAMA 2020.

Justice Ekwo, however, did not make the generic order striking down the sections of the CAMA 2020 as prayed by the plaintiff.

He said such an order would affect other bodies and organisations registered under Part F of the Act.

“These provisions are applicable in respect of the administration, supervision and regulation of other bodies like company, limited liability partnership, business name or incorporated trustee registered for other purposes stated in Section 823 (1) of the CAMA 2020.

“The court is also unable to strike down the provision of Section 17 (2) (a) and (d) of the CAMA 2020 which provides for mandatory pre-action notice to the 1st defendant, as prayed, as the practicability of compliance with such provision depends on the circumstance of each case thereby affected,” he said.

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